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'Murder' case solved by forensic students

Posted: 13 April 2021

The grisly discovery of a body on West Nottinghamshire College’s fields saw forensic teams in action gathering evidence for the police in March.

But this was no ordinary forensic team, and no ordinary crime, because this was a mock murder crime scene, purposely staged for students learning the crime-busting skills on the BTEC National Extended Diploma in Science (Forensic Science).

Their mission was to put their new-found learning to the test to determine how the casualty died, gathering biological, chemical and physical evidence at the scene using specialist equipment to measure and analyse.

The outdoor investigation at the Derby Road campus was the first practical lesson that the students have had together since the first lockdown last year.

Their tutor Melanie Pykett provided the group with the evidence already gathered by the police which included a student witness statement, details of a tyre track and footprint found on the grass and the place the body was found.

Using the forensic skills they have been taught on the diploma course, students were tasked in pairs to approach the crime scene using specialist equipment including evidence markers, plastic sheets, tape measures, swabs and containers, in order to determine the cause of death.

Student Robin Murphy said: “It’s good to be able to get hands-on with this mock crime scene outside of the classroom. We can see that the victim has a head injury and has most likely been drinking so it’s up to us to take accurate samples at the scene to analyse.

“We have to measure the crime scene so that this area can be recreated on a drawing ready for us to assess all evidence.”

Tutor Melanie Pykett said: “The group have been working really well to apply their forensic techniques at the scene, mapping it out and swabbing samples from the victim. The aim is for them to assess everything they can at the scene, collect all biological, physical and chemical evidence and record this in the log. They would then be expected to test all evidence and present it as an expert witness.

“It’s been great to finally get together as a class and take part in this practical session.”

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